Centre likely to reduce retirement age to 50 in coronavirus crisis

New Delhi: The coronavirus outbreak and economic measures to contain it could have a significantly negative impact on jobs of central government employees, who are at 50 or above.

The government will get the chance to recruit from a vast talent pool unrestricted by geographic distance in the country at the cheapest rate on contract basis instead of those older employees, who get vast salaries.

The central government is mulling to make significant change to retirement age for those central government employees, who have attained the age of 50 and above.

Those employees will get pension payment order (PPO) on the day of retirement but retirement benefits will be made in the post coronavirus economic crisis period.

As India battles coronavirus which has altered our reality like never before, a lot is changing very quickly.

A recession is almost a certainty, the government is turning very cautious having lost revenue, and a pressure on reducing the retirement age, which is a reality you can’t wish away.

Other reason, which makes the government bound to retire it employees at 50, that is social distancing norms.

Researchers from Harvard University, led by Stephen Kissler said that without a vaccine or other interventions, “prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022 for coronavirus.”

So, social distancing measures in office is required to adopt to combat the coronavirus pandemic may need to continue to 2022.

If any employee can reach out and touch someone from his office, then his office isn’t set up for social distancing.

Average employee densities in central government offices are thrice what they were three-decade ago, especially for lower level employees.

Keeping a distance of 6 feet or more from one employee to another employee in an office will be a challenge for the central government.

Hence, the Personnel Ministry on Thursday asked all central government departments to ensure that more than one-third of employees, below the level of deputy secretary, were not called to offices to avoid crowding and to ensure safe social distancing norms.

The other employees can do their job remotely from home while complying with social distancing measures.

The work from home systems is adopted by the central government, may have a negative impact on the the government in the short-term, but in the long run it would change the work culture which hitherto was not experienced by our government.

The work from home, in the long run results in savings in terms of employee productivity, logistics cost and office space.

The adapting work from home culture is not easy for central government employees.

That older employees also find it harder to adapt to modern technology, which is must required to adapt work from home culture.

This type of employees are neither essential nor able to work from home, and these are the employees who are most at risk of losing their jobs once the lockdown is lifted.

Central government employees above the age of 50 and have underlying conditions like diabetes, respiratory problems, renal diseases and other life-threatening illness as they are more prone to coronavirus infection, can now take commuted leave without production of medical certificate, according to Personnel Ministry order.

The above order reveals that the government wants to save the life of its older employees in the angle of social distancing and office space amid coronavirus outbreak.

The studies also show that Indian people reaching the age of 50 years old tend to suffer from a decline of cognitive and physical abilities.

As work from home now becomes the norm, hence, the government will get the chance to recruit from a vast talent pool unrestricted by geographic distance in the country at the cheapest rate on contract basis instead of those older employees, who get vast salaries.

Experts say India’s economic growth, which was already slowing, has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown, salary cuts and layoffs are just the beginning not only in public and private sectors but also in government functionary, impact of COVID-19 will be felt for the next couple of years across the country.

“So far the government has not announced any job cuts in its functionary but has frozen the hike in dearness allowance (DA) till July 2021 and no arrears will be paid for the period from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The total savings could be more than Rs 70,000 crore from an 18-month freeze,” a government source said.

The government now will look at how the situation evolves and depending on that take steps retirement of the employees at 50.

“We know reducing the retirement age to 50 years seems a bit extreme, but drastic times call for drastic measures,” the source told us.

“There is no economy in this world that is going to do well in this situation, hence, salary cut, job cut in government functionary is required to save public life,” he added.

The government might make lowering retirement age announcement amid coronavirus pandemic, he revealed.

Experts said it would put pressure on the government exchequer for payment of retirement benefits. However, the source confirmed this would be manageable in the he post-Covid period.